For a few years Friday Nights were the worst night of the week for me. I would get in big fights with my partner at the time, my anxiety would be at its most aggressive, and I wouldn’t be able to sleep the next day.
I didn’t realize it was a pattern for a very long time. After that relationship ended, I was re examining my past actions through the lens of GAD. I was trying to see where it had come up and why. I pinpointed Fridays as a repeated point of anxiety.
For most people, Friday is fun. You are at the end of the work week and ready to relax/go nuts and enjoy some time off.
Somewhere along the line, I associated friday with other people. If I wasn’t with others, I thought something was wrong and I was lacking. I don’t know when it started, but I put pressure on myself to make a point of going out even if I didn’t feel like it. I also put pressure on my partner to spend the night with me, even if they felt going out for drinks – which wasn’t a big deal. At the time, I didn’t understand why I was freaking out about something that didn’t seem to bother anyone else. In my head, it had to be for a reason. I didn’t know it could simply have been that I was experiencing anxiety.
There is nothing I can do about changing the past, so I looked to the present to see if this problem was still happening. At first the problem wasn’t there, I was relieved. Fridays meant no fighting because I was by myself. I could do whatever I wanted.
Then I started seeing someone new, and Fridays quickly became an issue again. But this time – I was taking ownership. I knew that GAD was coming in to play. I didn’t know what the source was, but I had to work on it. I wasn’t going to repeat relationship mistakes and get angry with my new partner for the same reasons. I realized even if I was experiencing anxiety – it came across as jealousy and being possessive. It was flat out wrong.
So – I made myself go home and calm the fuck down on Fridays. I spent time by myself and I started to pinpoint areas of discomfort.
Problem 1 - Not having a consistent home.
I had moved a bunch of times in the last couple of years, 4 times in the past few months. I never felt truly at home in my apartment. Even though it was mine, I had never had my own lease before or rented my own place. These were new concepts to me and while thrilling they were also unsettling. I needed to make my home a real home. I had been in flight mode for the last few months – ready to pack up and leave at a moments notice. It hadn’t sunk in that it was okay to settle in.
I settled the fuck in. I put up pictures, I reorganized shelves, I spent time trying on clothes I forgot I owned and prancing around the apartment. I did what I needed to do to feel more comfortable in this new place. I was happy to have it but I was stopping myself from appreciating it. I undid whatever mental block was happening and found ways to enjoy my new space.
Problem 2 – Reliving Past Fights
I still remembered fights. I still remembered old arguments that had long since silenced. No one was arguing out loud anymore but the effects of those fights were still riddling my head with bad thoughts. The worst part was, I realized that I was equally responsible for many of those arguments. I wasn’t always the one who had been done wrong – a lot of it was also me making arguments out of things that it wasn’t fair to be upset about.
I am still working on this one. Forgiving myself. I didn’t know better at the time, I know better now, and the only actions I can effect are the ones I make now. I try very hard to make decisions based on a clear head and not to listen to my anxiety. I spend a lot of time really thinking something through - trying to put a new spin on it and seeing if maybe it really is no big deal. So far, this has helped me. I have slipped up a few times for sure – but I am learning. A lot of change has come from dealing with my anger by myself, dealing with my anxiety on my own, learning to recognize that I am working through it by myself. I use the tools I have been armed with in my counselling sessions and I try this new approach – I say to myself – “work on it by yourself – see if you can diminish it and squash it out by yourself - if you really can’t then it may be a bigger problem – only take it to someone else if you can’t figure it out on your own”
Most of the time the problem never reaches somebody else. Sometimes it can, usually because it needs to. I’ve managed to weed out 80% of those arguments that would have otherwise started. I am slowly getting better at eliminating them.
Problem 3 – I wasn’t spending quality time alone.
I thought about the things I loved to do and one of them was drawing. I looked through the old sketchbooks that I would fill up in a matter of no time and realized I had completely dropped this hobby I really enjoyed. Each of these books was a combination of drawings, writing, and items of interest. I made an attempt to start a few, and after a couple bad starts and stops. I realized that these truly reflect my frame of mind. When I was having a very rough time the books were erratic and often have a lot of blank pages because I would drop one right away and start a fresh one. I wasn’t proud of these books like I used to be. I would go through them and rip out pages. I think this was all part of the process. I had to admit to things I didn’t want to admit to then purge them. It wasn’t easy, and I hated that I had completely lost this creative flow I used to have.
I also realized that when I spent productive time alone it would be with these books. I would fill them with ideas and goals and tokens of good memories. For a huge chunk of time there was no book because I was very unhappy. Now I had to get back to creating one.
I spent a lot of time drawing and picking up old interests and it resulted in a very nice sketchbook. I was very proud of it and I feel more myself now than I have in a very long time. The more time passes, the better I feel. I have this hobby back and it feels right.
I’m learning not to associate certain days and times with certain things. I try to tell myself the only thing that matters is the present, that I make the most of this moment. I am also working on forgiving myself the past. I try to reiterate to myself that I can think about the future but it doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. And that most of all – I don’t know what to expect. I have been wrong about my negative thoughts so far.
I just have to continue to have faith in my own ability to deal with these matters. And I think I need to keep telling myself it will get better – it only has been.